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De Geheime Woorden * Jacob Slavenburg (isbn 9020281119)

It is a bloody shame! I have searched for English translations of this book and I had to come to the woeful conclusion that there are hardly English translations of the books of Jacob Slavenburg. Slavenburg is one best Dutch writers about subjects such as gnosticism, esotericism, early christianity, etc. He cooperated in the translation of the complete Nag-Hammadi writings (resulting in a work in two volumes of about 600 pages each), he is translator of serveral new found and apocryphal gospels (Thomas, Mary Magdalene, etc.), writer of a gigantic work on the Dead Sea scrolls, writer of biographies of occultists such as HP Blavatsky and Rudolf Steiner and my praise could continue for a few lines more.
So why then, isn’t this vast knowledge obtainable for the non Dutch-speaking part of the world? It is about time that some large publisher has some translations done of these wonderfull works. The largest Dutch publisher in the ‘esoteric’ field makes Slavenburg available in the Netherlands. I asume Jacob could even do the translations himself, since he gives quite a lot of lectures, which are probably also abroad and in English.

Anyway, to the book. “De Geheime Woorden” means “The Secret Words” and the book is subtitled: “a discovery of twentyfive centuries of gnosis”, which immediately describes the book perfectly.

Also some non-gnostic subjects are dealt with to put things in perspective. The book opens with Zarathustra, Greek philosophy, Plato, Stoicins, Alexander the Great and Hellenism, Philo of Alexandria, Judaism, Romans, Orphic and Eleusian mysteries, oracles and then Jesus of Nazareth and Faricians, Sadducians and Essens (?, I hope I translated that right!).

The book is full of lengthy quotes from apocryphal gospels, the Dead Sea and Nag-Hammadi texts, the bible and other religious books and more. Overall Slavenburg not only deals with the history of gnosticism, but reveals a lot about what the gnostic worldview actually has to say. Several gnostic doctrines pass the revue and you will find many variations on biblical themes with slightly different explanations of certain myths and doctrines. Around the end some ‘gnostic movements’ are attended, being Hermes Trismegistus (who is actually more the forerunner of Hermeticism ‘the other’ western esoteric streaming), alchemy, Jacob Böhme, Rosicrucianity, Freemasonry, Theosophy, Anthroposophy and new age.

Also some very nice chapters about early Christianity and about the Cathars.

All in all a great book and a very good introduction into the subject of gnosticism. Slavenburg wrote more books about this subject, which I haven’t read all so far, but his books devinately deserve an English translation!

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